New LEAF handed back.

My final journey with the new LEAF was the longest.  From Fife, to Glasgow then on to Inverness via Fife, returning the next day after the e-cosse forum on Rural Electric Mobility.

With about 150 miles real world range on the trunk roads, at a steady 63 mph, I only needed the one charge en-route in each direction.  The presence of two eVolt units at Pitlochry made it the obvious choice.

On the way up I made use of the adaptive cruise control.  Aside from the adaptive function, something I will miss, I found the current incarnation of LEAF cruise control is a significant improvement on the older version.  It seemed far more adept at conservation of energy.  With adaptive function, driving in traffic on the A9 was a very relaxed experience.  As with all technologies, there is a learning curve, vehicles pulling off ahead can result in acceleration that a driver just wouldn’t engage.  Roundabouts with bypass slips, please disengage the cruise as you approach them.  The system is occasionally confused by bends in the road on dual carriageway, seeing vehicles in adjacent lanes as hazards.  Drivers should always be aware of these possibilities.

On arriving at Inverness, I put the car onto its second #JourneyCharge of the day.  The battery temperature was above median, with the starting charge at 40kW.  As the car reported over 2 hours to charge completion from 18%, I went back to the hotel, returning 1 hour later.  I arrived just as the unit timed out to find the battery at 96%, but not really any warmer.

Without LeafSpy I have no idea what the actual temperature were, which would be more revealing.

After the forum, the journey home was less pleasant than the journey up, with wind and rain demanding more effort from the car.  On reaching Pitlochry this was reflected in the 14% remaining in the battery, as well as a higher temperature again.  The charge rate started at 37kW and had dropped to 27kW at 80% when we returned.  (Mackays Chipshop, nice, but tourist prices).  While that was comfortably enough to complete the journey, we stayed longer as a colleague who had also been at the forum pulled up in his 24kWh LEAF.  This was for his second charge of the journey.  (I left quite a bit later as I had been chatting to PlugInAdventures in the car park).  He had arrived with not much left before the tortoise came in to play, so was very happy to start charging.  On his journey home he would still require one additional charge to reach his destination, while the 2018 LEAF already had that range available.

As I mentioned before the 2018 LEAF seems to transmit far more of the imperfections   in the road to the driver.  The A9 had a broad mix of surfaces, which made this quite exaggerated at times.  The transition from new surfaces to heavily wintered ones was occasionally  very pronounced, but without any undesirable side effects.  Handling was constant, which was very reassuring.

Three things I’d like to bring over to the old LEAF:  The instrument binnacle (which has to include the steering wheel), the bigger battery and Android Auto. (or Apple Car Play if that is your platform).

Three I wouldn’t refuse: Intelligent Cruise, e-Pedal and the bigger luggage space.

Three I like but don’t actually need: More motor power, Type 2 inlet and parking sensors.

Three I would leave:  The ride comfort, halogen headlights and the trip button.  (The trip button is the single worst placed item of switch gear on the car.  Awkward, hidden by the wheel and not entirely intuitive)

Three I missed on my Tekna while driving the Acenta: Birds eye view, heated seats and power folding mirrors.

Would I continue to recommend the LEAF? Yes, it is a very capable car, one that would suit almost every driver’s needs,  The larger battery adds a significant level of range confidence, such that an entirely new driver will be far more at ease in this car than either the 24kWh or even the 30kWh capacities.

Would I buy one?  If I didn’t have my 30kWh one already, yes.  I do like the quirky looks of the old one though, so maybe if I could just fit the new tailgate arrangement…………

LEAF 2018 rear quarterwp-image-953379478jpg.jpg

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A new LEAF?

After a recent service, I had the opportunity for a loan of the new LEAF.  Being able to compare the old and new has been a challenge really.  Is the new one better? I can easily list improvements:

2018 LEAF Acenta

The boot space is bigger.  What has improved it is mainly the shape of the new tailgate, which has resulted in a far squarer load space.  The volume is class leading and will be particularly welcome for families, taxi drivers and people like me who need to carry large quantities of equipment  most of the time.  It still doesn’t tow though.

The infotainment has both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.  These didn’t exist when the original was developed,  so they are a very welcome addition.

A new dashboard,  the layout, materials and features on the digital display, all feel better.  That said, I miss the separate digital speedometer.  It isn’t that I dislike the analogue one, I think I would have preferred it to be an option on a bigger display in the binnacle.  Then, I’m just one person!  There are still anomalies, with such a range of screens to choose from, an option to select favourites and have them in a sub-menu would be good, much less distracting on the go.

Although the steering wheel is crowded, certainly not more so than most modern cars.  I did find it fairly intuitive to use, with the cursor pad probably seeing most use after the speed limiter.  If I had to pick a single cosmetic change that I’d bring back for my old LEAF, then the wheel would probably win.

Tech.  The Acenta is loaded with the features that are increasingly demanded by modern drivers.  Adaptive Cruise, Blind Spot Warning,  Lane Departure Intervention, Automatic Emergency Braking and High Beam Assist being just some of the standard features.  I missed the birds eye view of my Tekna though.

Seats.  The model I am discussing here is an Acenta.  I miss heated seats!  However they are comfortable firm and supportive for me.  At first I thought a little snug, but after driving around for a week, they really suit driving the car.

That’s because it is a far more sporty drive than the original.  I had to regularly make use of the speed limiter as it is very easy to forget how effortlessly the acceleration takes you to the motorway limit.  It is fast. Not Tesla fast, but faster than most cars on the road.  The manufacturers figure put 0-62 at 7.9 seconds in what is essentially a family hatchback.  In the main only performance variants are in this territory, although they can break the speed limit by more.  The additional battery weight seems to have required the suspension to be firmed up, but this, along with a presumably lower centre of gravity, (the car is nearly 100kg heavier than its predecessor, nearly all battery), has resulted in a far more planted sporty feel when driving on a twisty country road.  It is just that you become quite familiar with all the potholes, rough surfaces and even the larger imperfections.  You do so with a smile on your face though.  The older LEAF was always fun to drive, but does pale rather against the performance of the new one.  For longer journeys with passengers, I would however favour the softer ride.

Range.   It has 33% more battery, which for my driving style pretty much equates to 33% more range.  The Guess-o-Meter seems less volatile than before, with far less obvious changes appearing over a journey.  Over the week I averaged around 4.1m/kWh, which translates to about 160 miles real world.  At it’s peak the GoM suggested  176 miles available, which after a run in the country may even have been true.  I only charged with a #JourneyCharger twice and did note the battery temperature creep up, with a slight tapering of the charge rate.  Simple arithmetic suggests that I’d have traveled over 300 miles before this had a meaningful impact on my journey.  For most people that would happen only a few times a year.  For me it might mean a few times a month, but as I  am generally able to use 7kW chargepoints, a normal 7 hour working day,  results in a full charge.  Outside of that I would happily plan my journeys with that in mind.  The increase in range results in a more reassured drive away from the beaten track, as the return journey is almost always possible.  I would still recommend taking every opportunity to charge, as detours and road closures are difficult to anticipate.

Neutrality:

Visually the car is much more mainstream.  Gone are the quirky front and rear light clusters, in their place ones that follow the familiar patterns of the Nissan lineup.   The car is a few centimetres longer, a couple of centimetres wider, a centimetre higher with exactly the same wheelbase.  This less distinctive appearance will contribute to the accessibility of the car to buyers, simply by not making them stand out as different.

Centre console.  Probably the area I’m least happy with.  The armrest has become an elbow pad, the cupholders, at least for me, are in the wrong place.  Not that I’d have necessarily  been able to do better, but I find my elbow and forearm constantly bumping against coffee cups.  The e-Pedal and Eco buttons are probably the main reason that these have ended up back the way. The steering wheel is quite crowded, with even more switchgear on the dash either side of the wheel.  Maybe pop-outs would be better.  The central phone cubby is ideal and crying out for wireless charging.

Without the radio on I found the wind noise slightly more prominent than in the earlier model.  Given that it is lost even in the sound from a talk show, that’s an observation, not a criticism.  With one extra person in the car breathing is almost louder!

Would I have one?

For me a new LEAF would work very well.  Would I use it to drive to London?  Yes, but with a hotel break in the journey, same as I would for almost all the times I’ve driven to London.  Would I recommend it to a travelling salesman?  Subject to a conversation about how far they travel and whether or not they could organise their trips around the limitations at the extreme abilities of the car.  This is a car that I think would suit at least 95% of peoples demands 99% of the time, with the period where it doesn’t work perhaps requiring a hire vehicle.  For most of us a car purchase will have compromises, it’s just that with an EV people ave to learn about new ones.

Would I trade my older LEAF in for one?  No.  Although for reasons that have nothing to do with the car.  As a high mileage user, I intend to keep cars to the bitter end.  That could be over 200,000 miles away.

Ask me again though after the 60kWh one is available.

 

Conversion

At work and just out and about, people do ask questions about my EV and my experiences with it.  My response is always enthusiastically positive, with clearly defined caveats to go along with the advantages of EV ownership.

Last week another colleague has made the leap to LEAF ownership, purchasing a used Tecna from Western at Newbridge.  He had initially gone to see his local dealer, but was going to go back to sell the idea to his wife, as the car would be for her.   I had recommended a visit to Cezar, something I’m not alone in doing.

For aWesterNissanNewbridgenyone considering a LEAF purchase, Cezar at Newbridge is a mine of information and support.  His enthusiasm for EV’s in general is contagious.

 

Needless to say after four hours of conversation, driving and choosing, a suitable car was identified and delivery is set for the next few weeks.  They have already planned a trip to Aviemore for a break.  Jumping in with both feet for a longer journey.  While the main advantages were clear for the work of a District Nurse, the lower costs of maintenance, fuel and ownership in general , with the convenient luxuries of pre-heat, heated seats and app control do most of the convincing.   The question of home charge point installation was easy, as there is a detached double garage, so fitting it between the door is an obvious choice.  The question of which charge point isn’t yet resolved, but what is wanted is a smart load sharing two socket unit, as they reckon at least one their next cars  replacementss will almost certainly become an electric choice.

Conversion complete!